US 7293830 B2
A personal support device having particular utility for use by personnel in high-performance surface watercraft comprises a bolster adapted and dimensioned to support an occupant for shock isolation from accelerations experienced by the vessel. The bolster is mounted by pivot means extending between the bolster and a back plate which is rigidly mounted to the vessel. The pivot means permit the bolster to pivot in an arc with respect to the back plate. A shock absorber extends between the back plate and bolster to dampen the accelerations which would otherwise be passed to the bolster by the pivot means from the back plate. The bolster is capable of supporting a user in a standing position or receiving a seat assembly to allow an occupant to be seated.
1. A personnel support device, comprising a back plate adapted to be rigidly mounted to a structure; a bolster adapted and dimensioned to support an occupant for shock isolation from accelerations experienced by the structure; pivot means extending between the back plate and the bolster to permit the bolster to pivot in an arc with respect to the back plate; and a shock absorber extending between the back plate and bolster, the pivot means comprising first and second sets of pivot arms, the bolster comprising a bolster frame having side wings and a footrest supported by side struts, the pivot arms being mounted to side walls of the back plate and to the side wings.
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The present invention relates to a new and improved personal support system, and particularly to a bolster construction having superior shock-mitigating characteristics which can be of significant value for use by personnel in high-performance surface watercraft.
High performance surface watercraft, such as employed by the military, are capable of sustained high-speed operation. Such speeds subject the craft and its occupants to tremendous shock accelerations and forces as the craft is buffeted by the seas. Beyond the obvious difficulties that such forces create with respect to allowing the crew to perform their necessary duties, continued exposure to such forces can be hazardous and harmful to the craft's occupants.
The U.S. Navy MKU Special Operators Craft, for example, an 82 foot high-speed vessel, has a top speed of approximately 50 knots and a range of 500 nautical miles. It has a crew of 5 and is designed to carry up to 16 fully-equipped special aquatic forces personnel in addition to other payload and equipment. When traveling in a head sea direction peak vertical accelerations of up to 8 g can be experienced as the vessel traverses the waves at a nominal speed of 35 knots in 3-foot seas. See High-Speed Craft Motions: A Case Study, K. Haupt, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Norfolk, Va. The forces generated by such accelerations can be harmful to both personnel and equipment.
It is accordingly a purpose of the present invention to provide a personnel support device capable of providing protection against and absorbing high-level shock forces, such as may be developed as a result of high-speed water transit by a surface vessel to prevent them from being transmitted to an occupant of the device.
Yet a further purpose of the present invention is to provide a personnel support device capable of preventing such high-level shocks from reaching the occupant, whether in a standing or sitting position.
Still a further purpose of the present invention is to provide such a support device which is of rugged and dependable construction, capable of performing in a marine environment, and which is adjustable to accommodate users of varying weights.
In accordance with the foregoing and other objects and purposes, a personnel support device of the present invention is in the form of a bolster assembly which provides a support mechanism for a user when in a standing position as well as being capable of supporting a seat structure for a user in the sitting position. The bolster comprises a frame which is resiliently supported by a mounting plate through a shock-absorbing interface. A pair of pivot arms provides the primary connection between the frame and mount, allowing the bolster frame to rotate in a vertical arc with respect to the mount. The mounting plate is in turn rigidly affixed to the structure through which the shocks are transmitted, such as a vessel's deck or superstructure. The frame-mounting plate interface also includes the parallel combination of a damper and spring, the response characteristics of which may be adjustable to allow tuning of the response of the system in accordance with use requirements. The combination of the damper and spring absorb accelerations transmitted to the pivot arms, damping a large portion of the resultant force and providing attenuated, controlled motion of the bolster frame in connection therewith. The inventive construction provides an extremely reliable and durable shock-absorbing system, providing superior comfort and safety to a user, allowing fatigue-free long duration travel aboard high-performance craft subject to continued high-level shocks.
A fuller understanding of the present invention will be acquired upon consideration of the following detailed, but nonetheless illustrative disclosure of a preferred embodiment of the invention, when reviewed in association with the annexed drawings, wherein:
With initial reference to
As further detailed in
Back plate 20 is provided with a depending bracket 40, shock-absorber unit 30 being mounted between the bracket and the lower end of the back portion of bolster frame 12. Appropriate pivot mounts are employed to allow the arcuate travel of the bolster frame relative to the back plate to be accommodated. The shock absorber unit includes an integral piston-type dampener unit 42 and a parallel spring member 44, as known in the art. Preferably, the characteristics of the shock absorber are preset to accommodate both the weight of the bolster frame and an average occupant of 200 lbs. and to be responsive to shock range associated with the expected performance characteristics on the vessel on which the bolster is employed. A working displacement stroke of four inches, to be compatible with the four inch vertical bolster frame travel associated with a 40° degree rotation, is preferred. The shock absorber may further have an indicator to denote the level of compression of charging gas to provide an easily observable status indication. In addition, it may be provided with adjustment means 46 to adjust the degree of pressurization or loading to compensate for higher or heavier individuals. Shock absorbers of known construction, such as manufactured by Taylor Devices, Inc. of North Towanda, N.Y., have been found appropriate for use.